I used to believe that I couldn’t control my thoughts. They would just run willy-nilly through my head making me crazy or happy or sad or bored or anxious. I was victim to my own mind. (If you’re a writer or anxiety-prone person, I know you know what I mean.)
But lately, I’ve really been struck by how I can control what I think about. At this moment, a lot of things in my life are a bit scary and unpredictable, and if I’m not careful, I can let my thoughts spiral very quickly into some dark and scary places. Yet, I am learning to stop those thoughts and shift my mind to other things.
Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he wrote to the church of Phillipi and said, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, graciousâ€”the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” This translation, from The Message, really resonated (forgive the pun) with me today because of the ideas of meditation and harmonies. So much of life is spent in a frenzied mental state where our bodily and mental harmonies are off – think of it like a choir who just sings their thoughts in any key they’d like. Yet, if we put our mind to “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling and gracious things,” to “the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not things to curse” we can find that harmony in ourselves, AND we can trust that God will make everything work together, including our own minds.
What a glorious promise. So today, when my mind starts to stray to the worst rather than the best, I will meditate on the beauty of a stream in autumn. I will think about my friends’ son Reilly and his round chubby cheeks. I will remember Dave’s soft touch on my cheek. I will think about books I love – The Lord of the Rings comes to mind a lot these days – and I will rest knowing that it will all work out in my head and in the world.